I was driving to Sinton for a meeting last night, listening to Growing Bolder on KEDT-FM, and thinking about the day that was nearly past. The radio interview was with Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad who was promoting a new CD. Farner mentioned that he hailed from Flint, MI which is Bob’s stomping grounds.
I texted Bob while I was driving and adjusting the car A/C to see if he knew him and Bob’s response was “I talked to you about him awhile back. Remember?” Embarrassingly enough, I did not.
It isn’t that I don’t listen to Bob, but that I often start a conversation and then drift off into a mental reverie that leaves the conversation, returns, leaves, returns. Like some ghostly spirit, my attention meanders. I’ve had to say “I missed something. Can you say that again?” when I’ve totally lost the thread of conversation.
I remember the conversation since it circled around famous people born in or around Flint. Bozo the Clown (Bob Bell), Sandra Berhard, Sonny Bono, Jerry Bruckheimer, Alice Cooper, Glenn Frey, Kid Rock, Michael Moore, Ted Nugent, Diana Ross, everybody who played in Grand Funk Railroad: they all were born in the Flint area. Not only were the Grand Funk players from Michigan but Mark Farner went to Bob’s high school in the early 60’s.
This was evidently more evidence of my ability to time travel. My thoughts teeter between future and past events. It is with great effort that I pull my thoughts to the present moment.
There’s a Buick commercial says that the average person has 3,000 thoughts per day. That seems like pretty light thinking. In 16 hours, that’s only about 3 thoughts per minute. 20 seconds per thought? I think I might be better than average.
My thoughts bounce around like the metal ball in a pinball machine. Click, click, ping, ping, dingdingding, ping, click.
National Science Foundation published an article in 2005 regarding research about thoughts per day and came up with an estimate of 12,000 to 60,000 thought per day range. The incredibly large range tells me that they are just guessing. MIT came up with the statistic that 90% of these thoughts are subliminal and as many as 80% of them may be negative.
Any way you shake it, there’s a whole lot of thinking going on.
Most research regarding thought process use several techniques. Scientists can’t read thoughts, but they can determine the footprint of those fleeting thoughts by using several methods:
– changes in regional blood flow
– subtle changes in regional oxygen extraction
– synchronization or desynchronization of brain waves (EEG)
– changes in impedance or optical conductance of brain tissue
– if the thought can be triggered and repeated, then averaging brain waves
– changes in glucose metabolism
– in rare situations, direct field potential recording
Functional MRI’s are often used to examine the oxygen in the blood to determine positive/negative thoughts. The greater the positive response, the more neural activity. Negative response has little to no neural activity.
My little neurons are working overtime!
The 11th step of AA says “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscience contact with God as we know him…” A few weeks after Jack died, I started going to the local centering prayer group at the Methodist Church. It was a way to spend time with my sponsor without going to meetings. So new to this grief, I was uncomfortable at my usual AA meetings. I didn’t think I could restrain my emotions with loving friends and thought it would be better to spend time with relative strangers.
I didn’t have much hope for being able to sit quietly and let thoughts drift past without leaping onto them. When I practiced centering prayer, I became acutely aware of how often I race away from the present moment. After 20 minutes, I felt serenely rested in a way I hadn’t been for the past few weeks.
I also find that when I actively-maybe that’s not the right word when I think about sitting quietly-or rather when I consistently set aside 15-20 minutes in the morning and afternoon, I am more able to listen quietly and really hear what’s being said.
It resets the whirly computer that is my brain. And when I read in Psychology Today that 95% of the thoughts I had yesterday I’ll have again today, I can see this brain needs a reset.
I heard in the rooms of AA that what I think about most is what I’ve chosen for my god. Many of my thoughts circle around regrets (the past) or fears (the future). That’s some amazing time travel. I ought to, and often do, have emotional whiplash at the end of the day.
Buddha wrote that “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.” I can’t control most things, but I can pick up the tools that help me be at peace. Centering prayer is one of them. It isn’t magic. Just like writing this blog consistently helps me write better, practicing centering prayer consistently helps me think less about me and mY-My-MY fears and resentments. And anything that helps me silence the hanging jury in my head is worth doing.